A Guatemalan healthcare worker receives one of the donated vaccines in an outdoor setting.

A Guatemalan healthcare worker receives one of the donated vaccines. Photo Credit: Prensa Libre

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous health, social and economic impact, claiming a very high number of lives in Latin American and Caribbean countries.

In 2021, as the government’s public health strategy shifted from mitigating the effects of confinements to preventing them through the provision of vaccines, corruption persisted. Only 31% of vaccines in Guatemala had been purchased directly and more than half of these vaccines are the result of a bilateral contract with Russia for the Sputnik vaccine. This contract was the subject of much investigation. To date, only a total of 3.3 million Sputnik V vaccines have been delivered, a backlog that has earned the Guatemalan president, Alejandro Giammattei extensive criticism.

In almost 10 months of vaccination against COVID-19 in Guatemala (since February 25th, 2021), 10,586,654 doses (1st and 2nd doses inclusive) have been administered. As of February 2nd, 2022, 55% of the total population has received their 1st dose and 42% of the population has received 2 doses.

Graph showing the available vaccines and the rate of vaccination in Guatemala, February 2022

Cases of coronavirus due to the omicron variant are on the rise in Guatemala. To date, there have been 681,308 overall recorded infections and 16,317 deaths. Currently, there is a positivity rate of 28.%, which, according to the Ministry of Health, shows that this strain is much more contagious, even in open places.

During the month of January 2022, as the cases of omicron have risen, the Ministry of Public Health authorized the start of the booster dose vaccination; however, access to vaccination is still limited for the population. The Guatemalan departments with the highest number of people vaccinated with 2nd doses are the departments of Guatemala, Quetzaltenango, and Sacatepéquez. 17 municipalities in the departments of Alta Verapaz, Chiquimula, Huehuetenango, Totonicapán, Quiché, Baja Verapaz, Izabal, and Sololá are still below 5% coverage with 2 doses. This inequality puts the country’s most vulnerable populations at risk and could prolong the health crisis.

Read the update in Spanish here.